Review: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory at the Palace Theatre is “full of delight and comedic wit”

From the page to the stage, Charlie & the Chocolate Factory zooms into the Manchester Palace Theatre for a fun filled musical that delights young and old in this new take on Roald Dahl’s classic children’s novel.
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Charlie Bucket (Haydn Court), a kind-hearted, inventive boy who always puts others before himself.

Court excels in the role displaying wonderful acting and musical performance that makes it easy for audiences to root for him.

Charlie lives in a shack with his mother, Mrs Bucket (Leonie Spilsbury), Grandpa Joe (Michael D’Cruze), Charlie’s biggest supporter, Grandma Josephine (Kate Milner-Evans), Grandma Georgina (Emily Winter) and Grandpa George (Christopher Howell).

The Buckets struggle with an impoverished life but never let their hardships break their spirit and all of the family’s cast gives stellar musical and acting performances with great chemistry on show.

The Buckets of Grimechester

The Buckets Credit: Johan Persson

The Bucket family live in Grimechester under the shadow of Willy Wonka’s factory, where no one ever goes in and no one ever comes out.

Their lives are turned upside down when a worldwide contest for five golden tickets is announced.

Each ticket grants the chance of a lifetime to visit Wonka’s factory and earn a lifetime supply of Wonka’s sweets.

Charlie dreams of winning even though he knows the odds are stacked against him.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’s wonderful characters

CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY  Credit: Johan Persson

As well as the bucket family, the cast includes the contest winners, gluttonous Augustus Gloop (Robin Simões Da Silva) whose appetite can never be sated, the spoilt ballet dancer Veruca Salt (Kazmin Borrer), who thanks to her wealthy father, always gets what she wants, Violet Beauregarde (Marisha Morgan) a chewing gum obsessed child icon in America with her own show and the crude chocolate hating Mike Teavee (Teddy Hinde) who’d rather be sat in front of a television screen.

The four are all given time to establish themselves and the actors and actresses all shine in their roles, with each bringing something new to the classic parts.

Also, there are the parents who accompany the contest winners, Mrs Gloop (Kate Milner Evans), Mr Salt (Christopher Howell), Mrs Beuregarde (Emily Winter) and Mrs Teavee (Leonie Spilsbury) who all display their versatility playing dual roles.

Also in the first act are the news reporters Jerry (Ewan Gillies) and Cherry (Lucy Hutchinson) who follow along in the contest as each golden ticket is discovered and bring fun energy to the stage.

The first half of the play is of a slower pace as it introduces the Bucket family and the colourful cast of contest winners.

The ever-eccentric Willy Wonka

The second part picks up the pace and introduces the ever-eccentric Willy Wonka to the stage as he guides contest winners into his mysterious factory full of wonders.

Mr Wonka played by Gareth Snook, delivers a wonderful performance as he displays the genius and madness that fits in with Roald Dahl’s original vision of the character, while also making the performance his own with his own comedic wit.

Also in the second act, The Oompa Loompas return but are given a new robotic twist, a stark contrast to the little orange men seen in the original film adaptation but with a variety of musical numbers featuring basketball, ballet & techno, the Oompa Loompas might look different but still bring the singing & dancing they are famous for.

The WIlly Wonka Soundtrack

The show boasts an impressive number of original songs (by Composer Marc Shaiman & Lyricist Scott Whitman) but also includes old favourites, “Candyman” and “World of Pure Imagination” for those that enjoy the film adaptation of the novel from the 1970s.

Each number is accompanied with the impressive singing and choreography of the ten-strong ensemble cast, (Patrick King, Victoria Nicol, Jonathan MacDonald, Emma Robotham-Hunt, Katherine Picar, Lewis Rae, Ty-Reece Stewart, Jodie Knight, Lucy Hutchinson and Ewan Gillies) who all play a variety of roles and make each scene in the show lively and atmospheric.

The set design impresses with its inventive design bringing a variety of different locales from Dahl’s novel to the stage, from the Bucket family’s shack in Grimechester juxtaposed with the wonderous interior of Wonka’s factory such as the chocolate room and television room.

Each scene uses remarkable props and cinematography to make audiences feel like they truly are in the world of Charlie and Mr Wonka.

For fans of all ages, with enough nods to previous adaptations to delight old fans and enough new and unique to stand on its own, directed by James Brininig and written by David Greig, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: The Musical is one for all tastes to enjoy.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is on from 11th to 30th July 2023 – See more dates by clicking here.

You can get your tickets to this amazing show by clicking here.

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